Archive for February, 2016

The Storm

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

We have devised many ways to push past the challenges of life. But storms…

… the storm is not so easy. The storm produces a more elemental anxiety, a sense of deep anxiety because you cannot touch it anywhere or handle it or measure it or hold it. (Walter Breuggemann)

And much feels like a storm to me.  Striking yesterday to read this post by Father James Martin

Over the past week I’ve posted pieces on Justice Antonin Scalia, Sister Helen Prejean and Father Michael Pfleger, each of which has received an avalanche of hateful ad hominem comments. (E.g., and I quote, “I hope he fries in hell,” “She’s not even a real sister” and “He is a disgrace to the priesthood.”) Needless to say, you should feel free to disagree with any of these people, and with me too, but not to spew hate. And, by the way, comments like these are not only hateful, but usually banal. So unoriginal. And I often wonder if these people would have the guts to say these things if they weren’t hidden behind fake FB profiles, or had to say them to their faces. So I have a new rule: If you post any hateful comments (and I don’t mean disagreement, which is fine, but truly hateful talk) you’ll be not only deleted but permanently banned. I’ve been doing that for the past few days anyway. Because it’s pretty clear to me that people who do it once, do it over and over. I have zero time for hate.

I applaud his comments. The storm does feel so much larger. Politcal conversations more shrill and vindictive.  More talk of “battle lines being drawn.”  More disasterously easy divisions between “this” OR “that.”  Simply put, more hateful, apparently caught between between secular self-indulgence and frightened moralism.

That simply is not where Christianity moves.  Our shared movement is one of a peculiar, reaching orientation towards the other, towards peace, towards forgiveness and mercy and humility.

When does it change? When we decide it does. That simple. And that difficult.

 

Forgiveness: A Guest Blog By Chris Dunn

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

On Forgiveness________

I’ve often contemplated Alexander Pope’s quote, “to err is human, to forgive: divine.” What an authentic description of the often raw, tragic and beautiful state of our relationships. “To err” really is human, and if you’re like me, it happens more than you’d like to admit. Yet in our shortcomings we are called to a deeper, more profound place: forgiveness. This isn’t just about forgiving the sins of others, but forgiving ourselves as well. That’s divine. That is the way.

I met Holocaust survivor Eva Kor several times, only after her story of radical forgiveness transformed me. There was a chapter of my life marred by intense pain, darkness and disdain for others who wronged me. Each day that went by was another opportunity to crawl deeper into the abyss, further down the hole. And then on one particular morning, my life changed forever. Through a church sermon I learned that there was a path out of this despair, and directly towards healing. That pastor recalled the life of a Holocaust survivor that decided to forgive the Nazis, thus breaking free from the agonizing shackles of victimhood. This was my clarion call.

 

Desmond Tutu once said that “until we can forgive the person who has harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness.” This has nothing to do with the other individual(s), and everything to do with ourselves. Perhaps the most essential aspect of that choice is its holiness. Absolutely no one can take away your freedom to forgive. To heal. That is a sacred gift you always possess. Divine.

If you’re struggling to either forgive another or forgive yourself, I want you to know that you’re not alone. That pain is woven into the fabric of the human experience. Yet there is a way to move forward. There is hope. It starts with a simple willingness to shed that pain, followed by the acceptance that in forgiving we take back control of our lives.

Here is the link to view Eva’s testimony on radical forgiveness.

http://livestream.com/newchurchlive/events/4749739

 

A Valentines Weekend Wish…

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Here is something to be “for” this Valentines Day weekend.  Something we can be. But first the challenge…

The original shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all.

Instead we live out of all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the wind’s weather. (Frederick Buechner)

So the problem is that we often live from our “other selves.”  What then is the solution?

To see in each other, to see in our loved one, to see as God sees “the original shimmering self.”   Just see it.  Despite appearances to the contrary.

Your loved one will notice.

Happy Valentines Day.

How should a church connect with presidential elections?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

This is a big question especially in a year when an election feels especially polarized.

Here the words of Jim Wallis seem especially appropriate…

Churches are not to go to the right or to the left.  They are to go deeper.

That hits it for me.

If we don’t focus on that “third way” of “deeper” we can easily lapse into extremism with all its dangers…

Extremism is rarely the thing we need.

Absolutes let us off the hook, because they demand not to be negotiated. But absolutes usually bump into special cases that are truly hard to ignore.

The good middles, the difficult compromises that matter, that’s where we can build things that have long lasting impact.

We need a compass and a place to go. But the road to that place is rarely straight and never absolute.

(Seth Godin)

 

Playing a Record

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Back growing up I remember records.  45′s. LP’s. And record needles that played the song.

And now I think a lot about church.  I love old churches.  By far my favorite form of architecture.  And those old steeples!  Beautiful.  Reaching up into the sky, up into heaven.

Times do change.  And maybe I see steeples a little differently now.  As “needles” not “playing” the song of heaven but instead pointed down, deeply, into this life, into this world.  ”Playing” a song there.

Struck today.  In serving down at St. Francis Inn, Bill, an old patron, seated alone, with a smile shared how good the food was. How good God was. How God provides.

Struck me … every time I work at places like that someone – often more than one – reminds me of the same simple truths.  A beautiful song.  Not played with a lofty skyward view  but by those in this life, in this world who have known more suffering than I can imagine but who seem somehow close to God, touching something very much alive.  A steeple in this world touching heaven and earth.